This week, the Galway Traveller Movement (GTM ) withdrew from the Local Traveller Accommodation Consultative Committee (LTACC ), which oversees the implementation of the Traveller Accommodation Plan 2014-2018 for Galway city. The committee members include Galway city council officials, local elected representatives, and Traveller representatives.
GTM presented a briefing paper with recommendations to all LTACC members in June 2016, which provided solutions to the Traveller accommodation issues in Galway city. However, to date, they feel that no substantive action has been taken to address these issues and Travellers continue to live in overcrowded, unsafe, and substandard living conditions.
The GTM says that the local authority has continued to ignore its legal obligations under the Traveller Accommodation Act 1998 and its Public Sector Duty under the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission Act 2014.
According to GTM, there has been a complete lack of commitment or leadership when it comes to protecting and respecting the Traveller community’s accommodation rights and realising equality outcomes for the Traveller community.
They say that Galway city council meetings in February and March 2017 showed a complete disregard for the council’s duty of care and legal obligations to the Traveller community.
“We feel there is no alternative other than to withdraw from the committee as it is ineffective, and it is not addressing the major Traveller accommodation crisis in Galway city,” said Joanna Corcoran, Traveller representative on Galway city LTACC.
“Culturally appropriate accommodation has not been provided for the last 20 years with no halting site being built in that time. There is no political will to address Traveller accommodation and no accountability for 18 years of failed targets.
“Within the LTACC and Galway City Council meetings there is a strong anti Traveller discourse and the Traveller community’s voice is not valued.”
The GTM’s position is supported by the Galway Anti Racism Network (GARN ).
GARN chairman, Joe Loughnane, said: “Galway is currently the European Capital of Culture, yet you have city councillors wanting to amend the Traveller Accommodation Act so that the one culturally-appropriate option for Travellers is removed.”
He continued, “The final straw came when Galway City Council issued eviction notices to Traveller families in Cúl Tra halting site in Salthill. We are appalled by the council’s approach to chronic overcrowding on the site.”
The city council issued a notice to vacate by June 5. GTM has urged families in Cúl Tra to resist these evictions and is calling for solidarity from the Traveller and settled community to attend a protest at Cúl Tra halting site on June 5.
Bridget Kelly, a community worker with GTM, said, “As a Traveller representative, I am on the LTACC to represent the interests of my community, not to be used as a token Traveller to tick a box for the council. GTM will not allow itself to be used to endorse a failed structure.”
Galway Traveller Movement’s position paper was reissued at Monday’s LTACC meeting, before GTM walked out of the committee until the issues outlined are addressed and real solutions are proposed.